Explaining The Sun Protection Factor

Great skincare can start at any age. When it comes to the skin of our children, understanding UVA/UVB rays and protection from these rays is important. Good protection depends on the correct use of sunscreen. Make sure you apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to going outside in the sun, remembering to reapply frequently. When choosing a sunscreen, be sure to select a product that has a “broad spectrum” protection. This will help ensure protection from UVA and UVB rays.

What are UV Rays?

UV rays have wavelengths shorter than those of the visible light we see by, and of the infrared rays that keep us warm. UV’s release more energy than other rays. Those rays have a decisive impact on the health of our skin. UVA rays are not blocked by the stratospheric ozone layer, and reach the ground in relatively large amounts. It is the least threatening, but far from harmless. UVA rays penetrate to the inner layer of the skin (dermis) where it can damage blood vessels, DNA and compromise the skin’s physical support system, contributing to premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. UVB rays are more damaging than UVA rays, but because UVB rays are effectively blocked by the ozone layer (less than 1% of the sun’s energy that reaches the surface), they are less abundant. UVB rays are more prevalent in the summer. UVB light effects only the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). They are more energetic than UVA rays and can cause sunburn much faster and are the single-most major cause of skin cancer.

What is SPF?

SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor”, and it is a measurement of how long you can stay exposed to the sun. SPF numbers on a package can range from as low as 2 to as high as 60. These numbers refer to the product’s ability to screen or block out the sun’s burning rays. The SPF rating is calculated by comparing the amount of time needed to produce a sunburn on protected skin to the amount of time needed to cause a sunburn on unprotected skin. Let us take for example a fair skinned person who would normally turn red after 10 minutes in the sun. 10 minutes is their “initial burning time” If that person uses a sunscreen with SPF of 2, it takes 20 minutes in the sun for that person’s skin to turn red. Now if that person uses a sunscreen with SPF 15, it multiplies the initial burning time by 15, so it takes 150 minutes, or 2 1/2 hours for that person’s skin to turn red. SPF in the range of 15 and 45 is enough protection for most people. Be careful of sunscreens that have SPF of 60 and higher. These sunscreens have a higher amount of chemicals that can cause your skin to break out. Taking care of your skin and protecting it from sun exposure reduces your risk of skin cancer. Prolonged sun exposure also contributes to the aging process, causing age spots, fine lines and wrinkles. Call 587-349-5850 today to learn more about SPF, skincare and our complimentary skin analysis.


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